Monday, November 12, 2012

The French New Wave

      The French New Wave was a huge outburst of vibrant and innovative films created by the younger directors in the french film industry during the late 1950's and early 1960's. During this time many young filmmakers experimented and rejected the classical montage-filmmaking style to create a film that actually said something about what they thought about life. Many directors used certain techniques such as jump cuts, natural lighting, or shooting on location that were not frequently used before.
      The 400 Blows released in 1959 directed by Fran├žois Truffaut was a major part of the French New Wave. This film tells the story of a young boy who enjoys trouble and questions the authority of his superiors. Much of the film is spent with him running away, living the rough life on the streets and being pushed to the very outskirts of society. Eventually when his parents give up on him he is sent to a disciplinary school for boys and there he runs away yet again. In The 400 Blows the last most stunning shot of the film is a long dolly shot of him running towards the ocean and looking out at the world.
       Truffaut's use of long shots in his film add to the cinematic style of The 400 Blows creating extended moments of tension that effectively add to the style of his work. One of these shots was the ariel of the many students following the gym teacher down the streets of Paris. As we witness the kids branching off and running away from the crowd we are constantly left waiting nervous for the teacher to realize most of his class is missing. Without this long shot I believe it would of released the tension Truffaut so carefully created. Another shot, mentioned earlier was the long dolly shot ending the film of the young boy running across the sand toward the ocean. This extended shot keeps us waiting for his to reach the ocean and effectively creates this sort of illusion that he will always be running and will never settle at a destination.
     The French New Wave artists created so many films that go against the status quo of that time period and today teach us that sometimes to go completely against the rules of film to make something truly amazing.